InnovationTuesday, 11/28/17

The Intersection of Tech, Real Estate, Automation & Innovation

Lucas Signor, Solutions Engineer

During late November Sitehands participated and sponsored the #CoRETECH2017 event in Silicon Valley.  As Sitehands Solution Engineer, I had the opportunity to engage with the forward-thinking members of the technology and Real Estate realms who recognize the blurring of their formerly siloed expertise.  The expo session focused around the intersection of Corporate Real Estate, Facilities, Technology, Automation and Innovation.   Vendors, Attendees, and Advisors alike had the chance to learn and share the latest trends and technologies in the Corporate Real Estate Innovation space.  I represented Sitehands and shared and demonstrated how we are bringing business model innovation to help corporate real estate executives and their CIO/technology partners ease the integration and execution of technology solutions for building out and servicing technology in the modern office space.

Coming to a Building Near You, Stage 5 of the Five Phase Evolution:

Over the last 30 years, there have been five major phases of automation that have impacted the commercial and corporate real estate industry:

  • Phase I – The 80’s: Apps such as Property Management, Accounting, Lease Admin, Building Automation, IWMS and Asset Management enter the picture, creating productivity gains;
  • Phase II – The late 90’s bring the big “I” Internet to the dance and the promises and failures of the early frenzy;
  • Phase III – Post, the survival of the fittest (and some real game changing business models) begin to change the landscape – old stalwarts disappear, new companies appearing and growing rapidly to significance with new needs in the CoRE space;
  • Phase IV – Beginning in 2009 after the recession emerging technology platforms such as Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud, IoT, and Cyber begin to get at the heart of how we value and imagine our workspaces, and for that matter even the way we get work done.

A lot of the focus at CoRE Tech 2017 was centered on Phase V and the continued disruption as AI/Machine learning, Blockchain, Virtual/Augmented Reality, Robotics and Autonomous Vehicles inject yet another dose of disruptive reality into how we build, value, and imagine the places in which we work.

It’s Happening Now, and the Astute Real Estate Leaders Are Learning & Experimenting

I was fortunate enough to speak with influencers on both sides of the new equation.  The technology innovators bringing new ways to manage and contain costs for buildings, new green/sustainable workspace technology, and even friendly humanoid robot who wandered the event floor – @PepperTheRobot.   During those conversations, we identified the main initiatives focused on functional workspace planning, real estate footprint consolidation, building automation, and technology adoption.

On the other side, the Real Estate executives, came wanting to understand how that technology would support the pressure for real estate footprint consolidation- large enterprises are consolidating office space making them more functional and technology focused.  In major metro areas, the square foot price is increasing, thus execs have been tasked to utilize less space in a more efficient way.

Building automation- is driving real estate consolidation, focusing on utilizing every square ft.  A key example of this was when an executive from Time Warner mentioned “they were tasked to reduce 1 million square feet”.  He was very adamant that this was done through building automation.

Historically, CRE has been slow at adopting new technologies unless it has a proven ROI.  But at the event there seemed to be more openness to more rapid adoption in the air, as the pressures of cost containment and the need to re-imagine workspace as the work and the workers themselves bring new demands prevails.

Final Thoughts

This group of forward thinkers, recognizing the need to collaborate differently across their disciplines (Tech manufacturing, RE Execs, Workplace/Facility managers, etc.). We discussed how they might infuse tech solutions earlier in the planning cycle, and above all – work toward incremental value for the businesses that they support.  Sitehands is proud to have begun this work with some of the most forward-thinking leaders in the corporate real estate space and will remain focused on new solutions to accelerate the pace and the value delivered. See recent news on Sitehands work in this space here.